You’ll hear poems celebrated for their music, their rhythm, their cadence and timbre, but you will never live to see a poet or prose writer awarded the highest arts honor in the world in the category of Music. Why isn’t there a Nobel Prize for Music? I assume because they’d have to award it to a poet every year. Next year at Cannes they should give Jack Nicholson the Palme d’Or award for Best Movie and call up a bunch of screenwriters and directors for comment. Will they care? Of course not, because someone already gave them a truck full of money to make a movie and millions of people will pay to see it. I’m being surly, but that’s undeniably part of what the Nobel does for Literature: if it’s true Sweden was feeling bad about ignoring American literature for the last 23 years and decided to award the Nobel to Don Delillo this year, as they should have done, millions of Americans would be reading Underworld, Mao II, Libra, and White Noise within the next few weeks, during a time in this country when I can’t think of a single writer who even comes close to articulating American dread and paranoia with the same incisiveness as Delillo. He would also be translated into other (additional) languages all over the world and read by millions and millions of other readers. Instead of hearing Dylan’s name seven times on the radio yesterday—during which every Dylan scholar remarked that you can’t simply read his lyrics, you have to listen to the music—we would get to hear insane passages from Delillo’s books on the air. We would get to hear Don Delillo give a god damn Nobel speech within a month of the scariest election in American history. Will Bob Dylan even show up to the ceremony? Everyone already knows his records front to back, he’s already a household name all over the world, does this award do anything to effect any change whatsoever? Instead of seeing one of the greatest authors on the planet honored this year alongside the world’s greatest scientists, physicists, chemists, and peacemakers, we are celebrating the guy who creeped around in a Victoria’s Secret commercial and can’t tell the difference between hot and cold coffee. Imagine in 1957 if instead of giving Camus the Nobel Prize for Literature they just gave it to Frank Sinatra. William Faulkner? Who cares just give it to Elvis. Toni Morrison? I don’t know guys, does Keith Richards have a Nobel Prize for Literature yet? People keep telling me these are false equivalencies but are they? Has anyone actually read Tarantula? Here’s a quote from the bard himself on that masterpiece: “It was never my intention to write a book.” People also keep telling me this is a victory for the breakdown of genre. These same people live in a country where a tax-evading reality TV star and failed steak salesman is about an inch away from being the president. You remember in the 90s when Bob Dylan was playing the Grammys and that guy got arrested for storming the stage with SOY BOMB painted on his chest? Give that motherfucker a Nobel prize, that’s poetry. If he hasn’t done so already, Bob Dylan should turn down the award. Sartre did it, and at least that dude could really wail on an acoustic guitar.
Danniel Schoonebeek’s first book of poems, American Barricade, was published by YesYes Books in 2014. It was named one of the year’s ten standout debuts by Poets & Writers and called “a groundbreaking first book that stands to influence its author’s generation” by Boston Review.
In 2015, he was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and his second book of poems, Trébuchet, was selected as a winner of the 2015 National Poetry Series and will be published by University of Georgia Press.
He is also a co-organizer and founding member of the non-profit arts space Bushel.